Spark Trek

by Robert Black


Once upon a time in a discontinued discotheque far, far away
A small grey moth flutters across the vastness of the empty space
Towards a glitter-ball, where briefly it rests, until disturbed
By the dreaded D’Art Raider spider!

So the moth took off at the speed of moonlight
To the centre of the hall, just in time to save a speck of dust
Falling from the surface of the ceiling above.

“Can you hear me Speck!”
Cried the overacting captain of the flickering moth,
“Hold on! We wont be long!”

“Illogical, Captain Irk,” came the reply from Speck,
“If I could hold on I would not be falling.”


Sound Trek

by Robert Black


In the beginning, a long, long time ago,
The Script Federation called for a mechanism:
“To patrol the stratosphere and do Search & Rescue.”
So the designers took a B-17, all polished aluminium,
Added a large v-tail, two long-range wingtip fuel tanks,
And on a forward leaning column above the pilot’s cabin
A small saucer-shaped flight deck and living quarters.

Our story begins with a mystery and a stopwatch:
“One day a snowman materializes on the flight deck”
(It may sound implausible, but then so is the acting,
but as long as the soundtrack’s as good as the original
it should boldly go on, long into the future.)


Entrainment for the Wet-Wired

by Kevin L. Donihe


I need bio-enhancement to process all this data,
some gadget that’ll slide in without expensive surgery
or the blood loss typical of the do-it-yourself approach.

Give me something to supplement my inadequate organic system.
It observes streaming news feed/scrolling stock prices
yet rebels against info-packets like a Luddite breaking frames.

I want my pre-paid dreams and pay-per-view fantasies.
Give me the Technicolor memories promised
in slick brochures mailed bulk-rate.

Primitive organ, don’t make me cancel my subscription.
I paid a pretty penny for the premium service —
non-refundable the dealer said

— and I fear I might not remember what a phone is,
how to speak, or even how to breathe
if you make me disconnect.




Illustration by S.C. Watson

by Rob Balder

To the tune of “Lucille,” performed by Kenny Rogers, written by Roger Bowling and Hal Bynum.


At a Middle Earth battle, they herded like cattle,
Bet that’ll look good on the screen.
The Second Age ending,
The Dark Lord ascending,
His deficit spending’s obscene.

The foes numbered millions,
Or possibly billions,
It’s how Silmarillions get penned.
Against trolls, orcs and giants,
They stood in defiance,
The last great alliance of elves and of men.

Their hero Elendil,
All tricked-out in mithril,
He carried the sword called Narsil.
With a warrior’s scowl on, he went to face Sauron,
To the Foul One he raised up his steel.

But Sauron just laughed,
Smashed it off at the haft,
And Elendil, he knew he was dead.
This relic he trusted,
Summarily busted.
Disgusted, he looked at the pieces and said…

“You picked a fine time to leave me, Narsil.
400 legions of orcs in the field.
Been through some good wars, and you’ve been a good sword,
But Good Lord, your timing’s unreal!
You picked a fine time to leave me, Narsil.”

His final words spoken, Elendil got croakin’,
But the broken sword still was employed.
With one wicked flesh wound, his son nicked an heirloom,
We all know he should have destroyed.

This story may ramble,
But it’s just a preamble
To the shambles which later occurred.
As down through the ages,
And twelve hundred pages,
Elendil’s resounding complaint can be heard.



My Own Prison

by Philip Reyth


naked suspended prison closet
VR nutri taps brain shut from world
sentenced life VR hell
tax payers baying cost effective general public
inhumane release trauma therapy never ending


Matrix Surfing

by Philip Reyth

beam riding jack in itch
hang ten matrix comet info slipstream
watch corporate fortress’
data ebb and flow electro cash go
identities like stars numerous as sand


The Cassini 500

by Robert E. Waters


What promises did you make, Bringer of Old Age,
That would send so many circling your belly,
Dust and ice and meteor splendors chasing
And chased, wrapping your radiance like so
Many rocks on parade.

Atlas, Prometheus, and Pandora, your shepherds all,
Their whispered resonance herding your sheep,
Molding and marshaling the march to solar slaughter,
While Pan pipes tempo from Encke’s bosom, rousing your
Nebulous children in the heat of your helium rain.

Slipping, moving, passing,
Fighting for the cup,
But never in a billion years,
Would you wave the checkered flag.

The Cassini 500

Illustration by NASA/Cassini 500


The Old Man’s Tale

The Old Man's Taleby Mike Spitalieri


With tired tepid steps

Our travelers return from the Tabard Inn

But still the matter of the most merry tale

Is decided not, for the dimming days of spring are nearly done.

The travelers still jolly from ale and mead join in a jilted din

Voice their vaunts of the tale they choose very best.

Amid our roar of raucous rabble

Whispering words are heard from a wispy old man hunched over his saddle

His words escape with an erudite tone

Through chapped lips cracked from winter’s chill

His frazzled face is fraught with graying hair

Missing is one eye, maimed from some malice long past

“Finished this contest is not my furtive friends

For my tale is not yet told to you tots and pups and lads and lasses.”

“Nay to thee” says the Woman of Barth. “Belated are ye brazen old man

For what fool wouldst listen to a frail and frantic old bat.

Why we’ve all watched our winded fool

As he converses with the hunting hounds

The Old Man's TaleAnxious to await their angry yelps

Or his long diatribes directed only at the dubious wind.”

“Silence!” says the old fellow, “For one and all would do well to listen to those weary with age.”

“Enough!” cries the Parson, “our evening is but early and

Tarry we shall until tonight’s final tale be done.

“Gather all ye round to hear my tale

I speak of a great and glorious General King clad all in mail

Though his conquest stretched through lands far and wide

It mattered nothing to the plague and surely he died

T’was on the trail to the hallowed halls of Valhalla

Our grave general greets a blind beggar seated on a round rock

Milky clouds were his sightless eyes that saw no more

Though this beggar never wrenched his wary gaze from our worldly General King

‘Who be he who so rushes past old Emit with harrowing steps?’

‘Good sir I be the General King of Kael off to see my Kindly Kin in Valhalla’s halls’

‘Ah tis so my lively lad but thou seemst too young for such a laudable title’

The Old Man's Tale‘Boyish may I be but my broadsword hath bit many a bitter foe’

‘So I see young sir King, forgive this old man’s silliness,

I beg of you but one task before you take your end journey

I request you humble my old heart and hand sign my book

For you see all great men of grandeur greet me once their lives are forfeit

This simple tome is ageless for the annals of ancient time to hold all great deeds’

‘But of course good sir shall I sign your simple text,

For there is no more worthy man than myself. I shall wistfully grant your whim.’

And so the old beggar bequeaths his book to the burly hands of our young King

The King does flip endless flowing pages to find a fitting space for his name to fill.

‘No room is there that I may request to write my name,’ exclaims the King

‘My gracious sir, though time be endless my book is but ten thousand pages.

There is but one way you may write your name, that your wonderous deeds be prolonged after death.

To embrace time thou must erase one of the effigies of your eminent peers.’

‘That can only mean that many a year might pass that another man remove my name to mark his own’

‘That is correct my courtly King of Kael. Such is the price of all who deem their deeds good and true.’

So it was for seven days and nights

Kael’s King poured over the text in search of a name to blight

The Old Man's Tale

Illustrations by J. Andrew World

Yet he found no man unworthy

T’was none among them ill matched in company

‘Old man I see no unfitting man I would assault such umbrage

The stock of men in your book are far superior to me

I fancy my deeds be forgotten lest these fair and just fellows ne’er endure’

‘If that be your decree I deem it a worthy donation my doughty King

Ne’er a hundred thousand lifetimes has a soul humbled himself before the test of humility

For this sacrifice my generous General King I grant you a lasting medium to mark your genesis.

Here on this stone I have sat my somber vigil awaiting souls

Here shall you etch your eternal existence in the annals of history ne’er to dim degrade or darken

The old man handed the King of Kael a hammer and chisel

To finalize this solemn ritual

For hence forth through time all in Valhalla and on earth told tale

Of the great and noble King of Kael!’

The Nelephant 9000 Computer #1

by Robert Black


“I think, therefore I’m on,”
said the Artificial Intelligence machine,
“Are there any questions you want me to answer?
Ask me anything you like. Anything at all.”

“I’m all at sixes and sevens today,”
sighed the operator.

“Aha!” said the computer, as it clicked and whirred,
“The answer is forty-two!”